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that the enemy had been reinforced the 333d Infantry decided to try the artillery, although not before Colonel Pedley had been given brass-bound assurance that the gunners would lay their pieces with such minute precision as to miss the friendly infantry edging the pocket. Through the rest of the day an 8-inch howitzer battalion and a battalion of 155's hammered the target area, intent on jarring the panzers loose, while a chemical mortar company tried to burn them out.


On 27 December patrols edged their way into the pocket, to find nothing but abandoned tanks. The previous evening General Waldenburg heard that the Fuehrer Begleit Brigade was being taken away from his right flank and that he must go over to the defensive at once. Still in radio contact with the pocket, Waldenburg ordered the troops there to come out, synchronizing their move with an attack at dusk which would be made toward Menil, northeast of Verdenne. Perhaps the feint at Menil served its purpose-in any event most of the grenadiers made their escape, riding out on the tanks still capable of movement.


Although this last sortie against Menil was only a ruse, Menil and the surrounding area had been the scene of bitter fighting and stubborn German attacks on 26 December. Krueger, the LVIII Panzer Corps commander, saw in the newly arrived Fuehrer Begleit an opportunity to carve the Hotton garrison, which had been so effectively barring his advance over the Ourthe, down to size. The villages of Hotton, Hampteau, and Menil form a triangle, Hampteau being the apex of the triangle, if this is pictured as projecting toward the German lines. Krueger's plan was to smash through Hampteau, grab the ridge running back to the west where it overlooked Hotton and Menil, and take Hotton by attack from the rear, that is, the west bank of the river. Success at Hotton would permit the 116th Panzer to peel the American flank back from the Marche road.


The first contingent from the Fuehrer Begleit came into the line opposite Hampteau at noon, deployed, and at 1400 hit Company G of the 334th Infantry, which was guarding the Hampteau bridge site. This attack seems to have been poorly organized (prisoners said that the attack formation had been wrecked in the assembly area by artillery fire). In any event it crumbled under the shells of tank destroyers and the 84th Division artillery. This proved to be the single pinch-hit performance of the Fuehrer Begleit, for later in the afternoon it was ordered out of the line and sent marching for Bastogne.


At 1830 the German attack shifted toward Menil, conducted as an envelopment on the east and west by infantry and tanks of the 116th Panzer. The western blade of the scissors ran into trouble when the tanks leading the attacking column were forced off the road by a daisychain of antitank mines. While attempting to re-form, the tanks were suddenly assailed by salvo fire from three field artillery battalions. Six tanks fell prey to the American cannoneers and the attack collapsed. Later the enemy made a demonstration here as part of Waldenburg's feint. On the east side of the town the assault had to be made across 500 yards of bare ground. The enemy fusiliers bravely attempted the passage, attempted it several times during the course of two hours, but unprotected